"David and Goliath"
Oil on Canvas
30" x 32"
In a dramatically-lit landscape, at either dusk or dawn, a man crouches on a stone pedestal and uses a cutting torch to dismantle a large statue of a presumably prominent historical figure. The remains of ‘Goliath’ consist of a large boot and an outstretched arm with a fist clenching a severed staff or spear; sparks and bits of molten metal emanate violently, bathing everything nearby in a fiery glow. The one witness to the scene, a bird carrying a few sprigs of dried grass, waits patiently for a suitable nesting cavity to emerge from the destruction. The painting illustrates a modern take on the biblical narrative, but as Goliath is an inanimate creation cast in gleaming bronze—the vision of a craftsman and sculptor—it is not obvious who warrants the label of ‘underdog’. There is also a suggestion of nature’s unwavering agenda: the inevitability of rebirth and propagation precipitated by human conflict, real or imagined, justified or not.
Artist Statement / Bio
I paint open-ended narratives that feature ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Achieving an effect that is out of the ordinary is where the work begins: the transformation, the editing, the re-imagining. That’s the point at which art overtakes illustration and the specific gives way to the universal. Equal parts ‘eyewitness account’ and ‘symbol-laden parable’ contribute to the tendency of my paintings to invite interpretation yet still retain a comfortable and coherent plausibility. It is a fine balance.
If I were a filmmaker, I’d probably cast the movie before the script was written. Long before I know how the story will unfold, the spark of an idea presents itself in the form of a face, an expression, or a gesture. The gesture, almost always candidly captured, is prominent in most of my work. Since body language is held in a tenuous relationship with any kind of objective truth, context is indeed everything. I use this to my advantage to highlight tension through visual irony—all in the service of provoking thought.
In 2016, I received the Laura Ciruls Painting Award—an accolade given annually by the Ontario Arts Foundation, and one that has meant the most to me, so far. I am very fortunate to have the representation of two well-regarded galleries: Ingram Gallery in Toronto’s Yorkville district, and Earls Court Gallery in Hamilton. My home and studio are located in Orangeville, Ontario where I live with my wife, Wendy.
— Steven Volpe